Toronto, May 12, 2020 – In two southwestern Ontario cities, the largest local employer is taking significant new steps to help protect its employees and their communities from the spread of COVID-19. The 8,500 employees at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) assembly plants in Cambridge and Woodstock will notice a number of important changes when the plants begin resuming production this week.
“We spent a lot of time re-assessing our facilities and processes, and we’ve implemented many new policies and procedures so physical distancing can be maintained as much as possible,” said Frank Voss, President, TMMC. “In any places where physical distancing can’t be accomplished, we’ve installed physical barriers and required the use of additional personal protective equipment.”
As a starting point, the company is ensuring its operations follow the guidelines established by federal, provincial, and municipal health authorities. TMMC also examined and benchmarked what other automotive companies – as well as manufacturers in other industries - are doing to ensure that Toyota plants benefit from current best practices.
Perhaps most importantly, Toyota is implementing a phased approach to resuming its operations in North America, with a gradual and careful ramp-up of production.
“We want to be sure that all of our employees understand our new protocols,” Voss stressed. “And that we then resume working at a pace that supports a safe work environment for everyone.”
TMMC has set up controlled and appropriately spaced entryways into its facilities, and is conducting a comprehensive health survey for anyone coming on site. They’re also taking the temperature of each person entering the sites, every time they do so, using thermal cameras. With oversight by the company’s on-site health centres, employees are being told to stay home if they have any COVID-19 symptoms.
When entering the plant, everyone is being provided with facemasks for use at all times while on site. TMMC has also increased the availability and use of additional personal protective equipment such as face shields, gloves and hand-sanitizer.
TMMC’s facilities themselves were also assessed, with changes made to enable employees to practice physical distancing, physical separation and use enhanced PPE while working, during all breaks, and while entering or leaving during shift changes. Cleaning processes have also been enhanced, with high traffic areas such as break rooms and restrooms getting attention much more frequently.
As Toyota’s Cambridge and Woodstock plants resume operation, they are undertaking a five-step readiness process that is being implementing at all of the company’s manufacturing facilities across North America:
1 – Return to work readiness: This includes sanitizing all areas of the plants, stocking the facilities with personal protective equipment, and laying out new walking paths and other measures to enhance physical distancing.
2 – Communication with Team Members: Daily and weekly updates for all employees, and frequent communication between supervisors and executives.
3 – Safely returning to work: Promoting new guidelines and processes to help ensure social distancing expectations are being met.
4 – Manufacturing and quality readiness: Ramping up checks to ensure quality is built into the process.
5 – Contingency and risk mitigation: Flexibility and processes to minimize potential risks as they are identified.
The protocols being put into place in Cambridge and Woodstock’s largest employment hubs will continue indefinitely, and Toyota will continue to monitor the situation and make appropriate changes based on federal, provincial and municipal public health recommendations.
Toyota’s corporate culture of “Kaizen” – continuous improvement – will also continue to guide the company, ensuring its employees can return to work while minimizing health risks.
“The auto industry is a critical contributor to restoring the Canadian economy after the country-wide shutdown, and TMMC is proud to be playing a role in that recovery,” said Voss. “The time is right to re-start – and Toyota is ready.”
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